Few surprises in Firebirds' 50-over lineup

Wellington will be much of a muchness.

There was talk, even high hopes, that the Firebirds might ring a few changes, heading into the final competition of the domestic season.

Instead the usual suspects will all be on deck, when they begin their 50-over campaign against Central Districts at Palmerston North's Fitzherbert Park tomorrow.

Opening batsman Josh Brodie and new-ball bowler Ili Tugaga are the only omissions from the four-day team which lost to Auckland this week, replaced by Henry Walsh and Jeetan Patel.

"We've kept our three old fast bowlers [Mark Gillespie, Andy McKay and Brent Arnel] in there and they've got the challenge to win us some games. They've got Ili and Dane Hutchinson breathing down their necks," Wellington coach Jamie Siddons said.

Hutchinson was a strong early performer in the Twenty20 competition, but got collared twice towards the end of that campaign and will have to wait his turn. It almost came yesterday but McKay, who's a physiotherapist by trade, decided he was over the back injury that had left him unable to bowl against Auckland.

"We ruled him out this morning, then ruled him back in by the end of the training session," said Siddons of McKay.

"It's a stirred up disc, but he bowled beautifully at training today and pulled up with no pain and his physio brain told him he was all right so we'll see in the morning."

The coach has never been to Fitzherbert Park, so has no idea how he'll configure the bowling attack. The plan is either three quick bowlers and a spinner or two spinners and two quicks, with James Franklin and Grant Elliott to provide the remaining overs.

Wellington come into 50-over cricket on the back of mountains of four-day runs, but they are not the most explosive batting lineup around. Michael Papps and Stephen Murdoch will open, followed by Elliott and Tom Blundell, with Franklin, Luke Ronchi and Henry Walsh providing the hitting options further down.

Ross Taylor was unavailable for CD, while Doug Bracewell's broken foot will keep him out of action for the rest of the summer.

This isn't the best CD team of all time and Siddons said Wellington simply have to beat them if they want to do well in this competition.


What: Central Districts and Wellington teams for 50-over match

Where and when: Fitzherbert Park, Palmerston North tomorrow

Central Districts: (from) Jamie How, Ben Smith, Greg Hay, Will Young, Kruger van Wyk, Kieran Noema-Barnett (c), Dane Cleaver, Tarun Nethula, Marty Kain, Bevan Small, Andrew Mathieson, Seth Rance, Roald Badenhorst

Wellington: (from) Michael Papps, Stephen Murdoch, Grant Elliott, Tom Blundell, James Franklin (c), Luke Ronchi, Henry Walsh, Luke Woodcock, Jeetan Patel, Mark Gillespie, Andy McKay, Brent Arnel

The Dominion Post